Uniting to empower women to achieve economic freedom through agriculture, forestry and fisheries
As part of government’s call to ensure equal participation of women in all spheres of life, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) continues with the implementation of the women empowerment programmes targeted at women in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sectors. This year, the Female Entrepreneur Awards (FEA) will be celebrated under the theme, Uniting to empower women to achieve economic freedom through agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
The DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards programme has, since its inception in 1999, been an empowerment initiative to honour and reward the efforts and contribution of women, young women and women living with disabilities for the role they play towards food security, job creation, economic growth and poverty alleviation in the sectors.
The Female Entrepreneur Awards programme is the result of collaborated efforts between DAFF, the provinces and key stakeholders. FEA is celebrated annually, during the month of August as part of the commemoration of the biggest march to freedom by South African women which took place on 9 August 1956. Since its inception, Total South Africa has partnered with DAFF as the main sponsor of the event, and throughout the years many other sponsors have come on board.
The DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards adjudication commences at provincial level and culminates in national level. DAFF has the official mandate to coordinate, facilitate and manage the event at national level. At the national award ceremony, the overall winner and the nine category winners, namely; best female worker, best subsistence producer, top entrepreneur: smallholder, top entrepreneur: processing, top entrepreneur: commercial, top entrepreneur: export markets and two ministerial awards for young and disabled female entrepreneurs in the sectors are announced.
The winners are awarded with prize money and DAFF enforces that the entire prize be solely and exclusively utilised to fund the project activities that enhance the productivity of the business.
The DAFF FEA overall winner is further supported by getting infinite exposure in the sector through linkages with other farmers, interviews, publications and also assisted to attend national and international food/beverages/forestry and fisheries expos in addition to the total winnings. This is meant to motivate and expose the entrepreneur to local/international trade and markets.
All DAFF FEA winners receive continuous support which includes training, excursions, exchange programmes (local, national and international exposure) by DAFF, provincial Departments of Agriculture and other key stakeholders.
The DAFF FEA programme has helped many women to graduate from one level of production to the next. Some women have even moved from being farm workers to being farm owners, from subsistence producer to smallholder producers. Others are now in commercial farming and export markets.
One of the main objectives of the DAFF FEA programme is to help open export market opportunities for practicing entrepreneurs in the sector; to date, a total of five DAFF female entrepreneur winners continue to have access to export markets, Mavis Mathabathe from Limpopo is exporting Moringa to Swaziland, Botswana, Germany and Dubai, Nomzamo Khoza from KZN is exporting Moringa to Mozambique, Thandi Mokwena from Mpumalanga is exporting Bananas to Oman in China and Nokwanele Ivy Mzamo from the Eastern Cape is exporting citrus to the Middle East, Europe, United kingdom, Russia, Canada, China and Japan.
This year, the national awards will be held in Kwa-Zulu Natal on Thursday, 27 August 2015 at Durban Botanical Gardens in eThekwini Municipality.